Ontario lifts mass timber construction up to 18 Storeys

Ontario is expanding the use of advanced wood construction like mass timber to help build homes faster and reduce costs over time while supporting good-paying jobs in forestry, technology, engineering design and manufacturing.

Currently, Ontario’s Building Code allows Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction buildings to be up to 12-storeys tall. The province is now amending the Code to permit encapsulated mass timber construction up to 18 storeys.

Paul Calandra, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said, “The use of mass timber can help the sector build more homes faster, keep the cost of construction down and boost our northern economy. As we work to cut red tape in order to increase housing supply, we’re taking an innovative approach to help our partners get shovels in the ground.”

Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction offers an environmental solution for quieter and faster construction with the same fire and structural protection as other building methods. Provincial initiatives that support advanced wood construction, such as Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, offer a significant opportunity to shift housing construction offsite and into factories, supporting more efficient and rapid construction from renewable forestry resources grown and harvested in Ontario by Ontario workers for Ontario families.

Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said, “Our abundant natural resources and highly-skilled forestry sector are helping to meet the demand for housing across the province. Advanced wood construction will help bring long-term investments to northern communities that will create new, good-paying jobs while increasing housing supply and supporting Ontario’s largest renewable natural resource sector.”

As part of a thorough review of this opportunity, Ontario participated in a national consultation on proposed changes to Ontario’s Building Code that would allow for expanded use of mass timber in the province. The feedback will be analysed by a multi-province Joint Task Group that will share a report of these findings that will be used to implement this change.

Mike Yorke, a consultant with the Carpenters’ Regional Council, said, “I just love the decision. It’ll drive forward housing opportunities, and the other piece that’s really interesting is that that area from eight to 18 storeys is really the sweet spot for mass timber. Mass timber may not be at the current time competitive for 50 or 60 storeys, but if you can really focus in on that sweet spot it will be fantastic for Ontario’s housing needs.”

A statement from Canadian Wood Council said, “These expanded provisions for mass timber will enhance the innovation already happening in the province, offering designers, developers and municipalities the opportunity to pursue high-performance, low-carbon wood construction in a greater number of buildings.”

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